Composite shows a long section of sidewalk shed with netting on the underside. Inset are photos of a fledgling trapped in the netting and pigeon on a beam inside the netting.
Animal rescuers sound the alarm that more birds could be injured or killed by netting installed outside an Upper East Side luxury building | Upper East Site, Sonia Izak

Birds Trapped, Dying in Nets Installed Under UES Luxury Building’s Sidewalk Shed, Rescuers Say 🆓


New York City animal rescuers are sounding the alarm about unauthorized netting attached to the bottom of a sprawling sidewalk shed surrounding an entire Upper East Side block, trapping birds, causing injuries, and even killing adult pigeons and their nestlings.

Photo shows a wide shot of a white metal sidewalk shed around a high rise.
Netting underneath the sidewalk shed around Normandie Court is trapping and killing birds, rescuers say | Upper East Site

Luxury rental development Normandie Court, which occupies nearly the whole block between East 95th and 96th Streets and Second and Third Avenues in Yorkville, installed the plastic netting to keep birds from nesting on the beams of their sidewalk shed — first erected in 2020 — but now rescuers and neighbors say that the pigeons who do manage to get inside the netting to the beams can’t escape.

Photo shows a bird perched on a white beam within netting.
Rescuers say that birds are finding ways inside the netting and becoming trapped | Upper East Site

“There were birds that were trapped that had no way to exit, meaning they had no way to go get food or water, and the ones that had nests in there could also not feed their babies,” said animal rescuer and Upper East Sider Sonia Izak, who was first alerted to the netting’s danger about three weeks ago, when birds started getting tangled in it.

Photo shows a grey pigeon perched on a white beam within netting.
Once trapped inside, rescuers say the birds starve and become dehydrated | Upper East Site

Some areas under the scaffolding, such as East 96th Street, were entirely closed off, with fluffy white down feathers stuck to the black plastic netting, while others on Third Avenue had openings, though birds will not fly too far from their nests and may not know how to escape.

Photo shows white down feathers stuck to netting.
Down feathers from pigeons speckle the netting around Normandie Court | Upper East Site

“It started to become a situation that was very distressing for not only the birds, but for anybody walking by who cares about birds,” she explained.

Photo shows a pigeon nestling stuck on netting.
Izak says nestlings and fledglings are getting caught in the netting and dying | Sonia Izak

Though she and fellow rescuer Harley Brooks put their heroic mission into “full gear” on Friday, since November, they have rescued roughly 23 adult and fledgling birds, as well as six nestlings, or babies too young to fly.

Photo shows a woman on a ladder unhooking netting on a sidewalk shed.
Izak and other rescuers have been meticulously unhooking the netting to get to trapped fledglings | Sonia Izak

“Now these birds are trapped in colder weather,” Izak said of this week’s dropping temperatures. When they become stuck in the nets, “they can’t regulate their body temperature.”


All were brought to the Wild Bird Fund on the west side for rehabilitation, though some were in such poor condition due to starvation, dehydration, exposure, parasitic infections and injuries from struggling to free themselves that WBF opted to euthanize them.

Photo shows hands wearing blue rubber gloves holding
A pigeon nestling rescued from the netting at Normandie Court | Sonia Izak

Izak also knows of three that died tangled in the netting itself, though she acknowledges that there could be more. Others were well enough to fly away once the netting was released.

Composite shows two photos of dead pigeons. One dead bird laying on netting. The other jus shows a leg hanging through a gap between beams.
Izak has photographed multiple dead pigeons, including a bird’s leg hanging from a beam (right) and another caught by the netting (left) | Sonia Izak

“I don’t think we can save every bird, obviously,” Izak said. “But it would be great to have the netting company work with us.”

Photo shows three pigeon fledglings inside a jacket.
Three fledglings were rescued from within the netting on Tuesday evening | Sonia Izak

The Department of Buildings tells Upper East Site an inspector found that “the approved plans for the sidewalk shed did not include the netting that had been installed,” adding that the agency will be issuing violations to the building and ordering Normandie Court’s owner, Ogden CAP Properties, to remove the netting.

It was still attached to the building on Tuesday, with pigeons perched on beams inside. Upper East Site contacted Ogden CAP Properties but did not immediately hear back.

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